Monday, February 16, 2015

Distrust

A couple of months ago I got extremely annoyed by the behavior of my opponent. Regularly he left the playing room during the game and when he returned at the board played a very strong move. Around move 23 when my position was already delicate, I couldn't keep calm and went searching for him. Initially I couldn't find him anywhere so I decided to wait at the door of the toilets. A bit later he left the toilet just after somebody else. By accompanying him towards our board, I clearly hinted that something bothered me. I don't know if he understood my hint but in any case the long absents from the playing room stopped after this.

Once at home this distrust only became stronger when I noticed that by coincidence his moves corresponded till move 23 each time with the first choice of my engines while my opponent surely was out book since move 10. Inevitably you think about cheating. However I also realized very well that the proof was very light. On Chess-db.com you can find many examples of analysis how much games overlap with the choices of engines. I even found of myself a game in which I scored 99,22%. I challenge the reader to find of himself a game which scores even better.
Chess-db Game analysis
In my article Swiss gambit I discussed this game and mentioned that till move 17 it was preparation. Of the remaining moves many can be played automatically. So despite the huge score there was no cheating at all. Therefore I am reluctant to openly accuse somebody of cheating. It is also the reason why I removed any reference to the person or situation. 

However some other people are not so prudent and aren't afraid to accuse with the smallest distrust. E.g. last I played online a bulletgame against a Hungarian player.

If you check this game with an engine that you see many moves aren't approved but still I got a very special thanks after the game from my opponent.

Of course "Good comp" should be interpreted as an accusation of cheating by using assistance of an engine.

Now besides the overlapping with the choices of the engines, there is still that my opponent left regularly the playing room. I didn't count the number of times but the number was sufficiently high to attract attention and to irritate. Maybe my opponent had a medical problem so needed often the toilet. Some will surely remember the bathroom controversy which in the WC of 2006 between Topalov and Kramnik even caused a default of the 5th game in Topalovs advantage. Topalovs team accurately kept track of how much time Kramnik spent in the bathroom. In other words I am certainly not the first one whom gets suspicious about multiple toilet-visits. Besides that is not so crazy as last year somebody was even caught with his smartphone on the toilet, see eg. schaaksite.

In the end I boldly asked my opponent what exactly was going on. Of course he wasn't happy about such question but he also realized that he better answered before it got out of control. He mentioned that he liked smoking so when he had to wait for this turn then he often went outside for a smoke. I didn't think about that as I didn't smell anything at all. I am not a smoker so I probably don't realize that not much smell sticks on the clothes when smoking is done in the open air.

Again I am not the first person to be irritated by smoking-breaks of the opponent. We had some years ago the well known incident between Mamedyarov - Kurnosov whereby white accused openly black of cheating and filled an official complaint.

A 2700 doesn't lose every day in 21 moves with white from a 100 lower rated player so I do understand the frustrations. On the other hand I do have to add that Kurnosov was an exceptionally talented player. I say "was" as he tragically died in a car accident 2 years ago.

Personally I don't think those breaks for smoking are still acceptable today. We have always stricter rules to fight against cheating but we still allow players to leave the playing room to smoke outside. There is little or no control outside. Even if the opponent doesn't do anything wrong then still it is difficult to concentrate at the board.

A return of smoking at the board is of course not an option anymore. I warmly recommend people to watch the love for wood 1979 chess documentary which illustrates very well how terrible the conditions were in those times went smoking at the board was still possible. Pure nostalgia for some but I still remember how after coming home from the chessclub I first had to undress myself of my (upper) clothes before I could further enter the parental house as everything smelled horribly. No smoking should only be allowed before or after the game. Easy talking for a non-smoker  but I am willing to make a compromise. Smoking can happen once after the time-control of move 40. Next year the pace of the game will be accelerated in the Belgium interclub so this look certainly feasible. Can we put this as an action-point for fide?

Brabo

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